An Interview with a Regional Sales Director – Getting the most out of your sales force

By Chris Cushman

I still believe the best part about any job is working with great people. The excel spreadsheets and the status reports don’t get me out of bed in the morning. The opportunity to work with my colleagues and clients does. I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk shop with one of my past clients… like 10 years ago past client. He is now a Regional Director in the Midwest for a large biotech company. I wanted to pick his brain a bit about how regional marketing plays into his role as a Regional Director, responsible for a large piece of the brands’ business and for 10 sales reps in the region. Here’s a summary of that conversation (CC = Chris Cushman, RD = Regional Director).

CC: In a few words, how would you describe your region?

RD: “High volume sales” and “growth” however, this region also has the highest potential as it contains the highest competitive market share.

CC: How is this different from the others?

RD: This region has the largest number of competitive KOL (key opinion leader) loyalists in the nation. This is represented by what we call a “competitive index.” The bottom line is that there is more competitive product written in my region than any other.

CC: Are you and your reps getting marketing / sales materials that are unique for your region?

RD: No, we aren’t.

CC: Would you like to receive more regionally relevant materials for your reps & customers? And if so, why?

RD: Yes! It’s a very competitive space and one that is more relationship-based than any market I have been in. Tools that can help us differentiate our value in our centers that drive most of the volume can be useful.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • Many of our patients get to the treatment centers too late in the disease progression. Regionally relevant materials that connect the centers with the community physicians would help identify the patients earlier and get them the appropriate treatment.
  • Nurses that are new to our category are always joining the treatment centers. It would be great to provide them with regionally-relevant information (education) to get them up to speed quicker.
  • Perception of our commitment to the disease state remains a concern. One way we can break down this perception is to build stronger and deeper relationships with the local/ regional KOLs.
  • Sometimes our customers are writing for the wrong patients. It would be great to educate the HCP staff in my are a on the patient profiles that they are going to encounter in their area / in their treatment centers.
  • And finally, there is a group of specialists that are starting to write a lot more for a specific patient population. These specialists, because they aren’t seeing the volume of patients that our core HCPs do, aren’t as familiar with the recommended guidelines for screening. Ideally, we would be able to partner with regional specialist KOLs so that they can help us share best practices to their colleagues.

CC: How important is it to identify and partner with KOLs in your area? As compared to the national ones that may be leveraged at trade shows, conferences, national brand communications, etc.

RD: Extremely, national KOL’s can help influence, but most Center doctors control the volume and can also influence what is used in the community.

Healthcare Regional Relevance:

Here at HRM we believe that engaging your sales force fully is a matter of providing them with the right tools and resources to do what they do best. Often, they are just looking for something “new,” but one way to really drive engagement is to arm them with materials that are specific to their market. It is clear from our conversation with the Regional Sales Director that his market has unique opportunities. This can be done by partnering with local KOLs, by providing different targets (i.e. nurses) relevant information, and by highlighting the specific patient populations in that area that HCPs are going to interact with. Consider becoming regionally relevant when putting a plan in place to fully engage your most valuable asset – your sales force.

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